Postnatal care is lagging behind other areas of midwifery, according to a survey from Mumsnet.
More than 1,200 mothers who have just had babies were surveyed by the maternity website. Results showed that, among those who stayed in hospital after giving birth, many reported it was sometimes difficult to access food, pain relief, drinking water and washing facilities.
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Results showed 19% of women who had a hospital stay say it affected their mental health for the worse; 5% say they developed postnatal depression and the environment in hospital was a factor; 20% were frightened for their own or their baby's wellbeing, and 15% did not always feel safe during their stay on the ward.
Among those who were considering or would have been likely to have more children, 14% said their experience on the postnatal ward had ‘made them think twice’ about having more children, 5% said it had ‘contributed to a decision not to have any more children’, 1% said it had ‘made them decide not to have any more children’, and 15% say they discharged themselves from hospital because they couldn't bear to stay any longer.
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Royal College of Midwives (RCM) chief executive Cathy Warwick Chief said: ‘There is no doubt that postnatal services are the Cinderella of maternity services right across the UK. The RCM believes this area of maternity care is one of the most important to invest in and much more investment is needed to help us achieve the best outcomes for both mother and baby.
‘For women the postnatal period can often be a very difficult time and this is when the highest level of care and support is needed most for some women. It can also be an extremely exhausting and worrying time particularly for first time mothers.
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‘If we are to invest in better postnatal care for women we must invest in more midwives. England currently remain 3,500 midwives short and our maternity services will continue to struggle in supporting women if the shortage is not addressed. More midwives means women will get the care, time and support they truly deserve.’
The survey has been launched to coincide with a new campaign from Mumsnet to improve postnatal care called Aftercare, not Afterthought.